Posted in theology

See what the Lord is doing: Update from Justin Peters

By Elizabeth Prata

I subscribe to Justin Peters Ministries because I like how Justin operates in truth and kindness, I like what he does (evangelism and his rebuttals against false doctrines like health/wealth or word-faith), and I like the encouraging things I read about what the Lord is doing through him.

His reports are uplifting. We need encouragement these days. I like Paul Washer’s mission updates, too. (HeartCry Missionary Society). We can get so caught up in our own spheres we might overlook the grace that is bestowed elsewhere.

Justin’s Youtube Channel is a wealth of information.

I would like to re-post his latest ministry update. I hope you find it encouraging too! Here is Justin:

Continue reading “See what the Lord is doing: Update from Justin Peters”
Posted in end time, prophecy

A word of encouragement

By Elizabeth Prata

Fellow Christians, as the Church Age draws to a close, the anger, mocking and scoffing grows. On internet chat boards, forums, blogs, and e-mails, the unsaved do rail and rebel in unloving and unforgiving manner. In real life, they mock and sneer, scorning our beliefs. Oppression, ridicule and persecution grows. Even witnessing to family members can be heart-breaking, as the most polite response is usually simply a deafening silence and at worst, rifts grow.

All this can bring a Christian down. It can cause one to despair and stumble, as we wonder if the tears that Jesus wipes from our face will be falling in grief because our loved ones are absent in glory.

Remember, Jesus knows this would be the circumstance in the end of days. He inspired Jude to write these words, as comforting to the church then as to us now:

A call to persevere

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, in Jude 1:18-23, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.

These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 1:18-23

Doxology
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 1:17-25)

Witness in love, pray for the lost, and persevere dear Brother and Sister. For He is able to keep us from falling, He is the most Worthy One to whom we shall be presented in due time and in great joy. Until then, “to others show mercy.”

Posted in theology

Are things spinning out of control? (Answer: No)

By Elizabeth Prata

So many spheres of our lives feels like they are unraveling, undergoing pressure, or otherwise getting worse than it was even a few years ago. It sure feels like things are spinning out of control.

They’re not.

I was musing on God’s orderliness. Time and time again in the Bible He shows us just how much He is in control. Everything happens in His schedule, in His timetable, in His timing, for His reasons. Nothing escapes His notice. Nothing happens unless He causes it, allows it, or oversees it and then brings it all to the good for those who love Him.

Continue reading “Are things spinning out of control? (Answer: No)”
Posted in bible, God, prayer

Peter’s impetuousness

By Elizabeth Prata

Picture Peter and friends on the boat, in the middle of Lake Galilee.

Suddenly one of the men in the boat looked out and said, “Someone is walking on the water!” Sure enough, with robes flowing in the wind, here comes Jesus walking across the whitecaps.

Peter cried out, “Is that You, Lord?”
The Lord answered, “It is I”
Peter said, “Can I come?”

Continue reading “Peter’s impetuousness”
Posted in theology

Amazement at how the world is going

By Elizabeth Prata

Christians I know are experiencing complex emotions these days. They are alternately angry, fearful, and mournful of the things coming upon the world. See, we know what is ahead for this last chapter of human experience. Though we have always known the fate of the lost and unsaved, sinking in their sin, but because the prophesies are nearing fulfillment at this time, we are starting to see it. And there is a difference between knowing and seeing. Romans 1 is being played out before our eyes.

We see the sin piling up, we see sinners sinking, drowning in their anger and pain. Being separated from God, they are crying out to their idols, voices wafting onto the wind, unheard.

We read of corruption and hate and shooting and evil and lying and false religions and it goes on and on. All we can do is stand on the lakeshore and tell the sinking, perishing ones the truth, that there is a helicopter above their head with a lifeline. Grab it! Grab it! we shout. Many won’t. It is excruciating to see so many refuse to listen. They will not look up at their redemption, and one by one, they strangle in their heavy sins and perish. We cry. Why?

What we are feeling these days is mourning. We are watching the death throes of our world, we are watching the perishing of many souls, we are watching the hardening of heart by God in real time. We sink to our knees in grief.

But God.

But God made a way for sinners to be redeemed,
But God gave us the Holy Spirit so that we have ability to pursue righteousness,
But God gave us opportunity to know Him, enjoy Him and give Him glory,
But God sent His Son to die on the cross, be buried, resurrected and ascended to the right hand of the Father,
But God adopted us into His family!

We Christians above all people in the world have so many blessings. We possess the knowledge of and even the indwelling of the Most High God. We are comforted by His promises.

But God in addition to His holiness, also has the aspect of Justice.

We tend to forget that John the Baptist the forerunner to Jesus came speaking not of love and joy and comfort and encouragement, “He first preached preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;” (Luke 3:3). He spoke of wrath and the coming of Jesus. (Luke 3:716). The Gospel of Jesus Christ has two parts, and the second part is almost upon us: His Second Coming. He could come at any time. Or, death could come for you, any moment.

Are you ready to face the Holy God who created you? To defend your sins, to be tried and found guilty, and be thrown into the Lake of Fire in the end?

Of are you ready to face the Holy God who created you and fling yourself at the feet of Jesus begging for forgiveness? Who will then pursue holiness with the indwelling Spirit propelling you along until death, and then be ready to be ushered into heavenly glory? Are you ready to persevere, continue to do good in the face of darkness and hate? For there is LIGHT at the end.

I continually try to remind us all, me included, to have an eternal perspective. To keep looking up. Not to despair. To not grow weary in the doing good.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10

Posted in theology

God’s sovereignty brings peace to the soul in troubled times

By Elizabeth Prata

God doesn’t have to patch. He doesn’t have to regroup. He doesn’t have to do a workaround. He doesn’t have to circle back to this. There is no Plan B. He plans the end from the beginning.

Witness: Joseph. Thrown into the pit, his sale as a slave, the rising up to Potipher’s house, his throwing down again into jail, his appearance before Pharaoh, God giving Pharoah a dream, the famine, the long lost family coming to Joseph…all planned. All moved along in perfect timing God had ordained.

I mean, look at the genealogies. Each person married whom God wanted to marry right up until Joseph and Mary were betrothed. Each pairing throughout all time until the man God wanted to unite with Mary becoming pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Amazing

In turbulent times such as these, when we are unsettled, let us rest on the fact of God’s sovereignty. RC Sproul was amazing in explaining God’s kingly hand over all which happens:

Understand that when we talk about God’s ordaining things, there are different ways God ordains things to come to pass. This doesn’t necessarily mean that God jumps down onto the planet and makes something happen through a direct and immediate personal involvement on His part. But the trick in the statement has to do with the word “ordain.” All that statement means is that God is sovereign over anything that happens. Nothing in this world can happen apart from divine sovereignty.

We distinguish sometimes between God’s efficacious will and His permissive will. You’ve heard those kinds of distinctions, but let me state this in the easiest of all possible terms. If something happens in this world, whether by the power of men, the power of nature, the power of machines, etc., God always has the power and authority to at least prevent it from happening, does He not? And if He does not prevent it from happening, that means at least this much: He has chosen to let it happen.

That doesn’t mean that He applauds it. That doesn’t mean He’s in favor of it insofar as He gives His divine sanction to it. But He does allow it to happen (again, not always in the sense of approving) and, in so allowing, He is making a decision and making that decision sovereignly. He knows in advance what is going to happen, and if He decrees that it shall happen, He is retaining His sovereignty over it.

If things happen in this world outside the sovereignty of God, then that would simply mean God is not sovereign. 

There is not one maverick molecule in the universe, Sproul said! All is sustained by Jesus. Nations war. Nations rise. Nations fall. God ordains all that happens, from the big things right down to each lungful of air we breathe and the places our blood course through our bodies, or doesn’t course.

We are fortunate we know Him as a good and gracious God. All that He does is for the good of those who love Him. Times may be scary, prices may be rising, but he will never let us beg bread or remain in fear. His word bathes our soul, cleanses our mind, dissolves the weeds of fear. Rely on God through His word, through His love, and through His promises

  1. God’s presence brings joy — Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
  2. God will fill me to overflowing with hope — Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
  3. God will strengthen and help me — Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Pray for a balm today. He will give it.

EPrata photo
Posted in theology

“Don’t worry, be happy”

By Elizabeth Prata

In 1988 Bobby McFerrin released his soon-to-be hit song Don’t Worry, Be Happy. I remember the fervor back then around that song. Legitimately, it was a good song. It was the first a cappella song to get to a number one position on the top 40 singles on the Billboard chart. Don’t Worry Be Happy stayed there for 2 weeks, bumping out Guns N Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine.

People were also amazed that McFerrin did all the vocals himself. The “instruments” in the a cappella song are all overdubbed voice parts and other mouth sounds made by McFerrin, using no instruments at all; says Wikipedia. Pretty neat.

I was cooking the other day and turned on my Pandora to my Paul Simon channel. McFerrin’s song came on. It’s amazing how being in Christ gives you a totally different perspective. I was 28 years old when Don’t Worry Be Happy came out. I would not come to Christ for another 15 years. And I’ve gone on for almost 20 more years beyond that. I can’t detect how my sanctification is going in the short term, day after day, but looking back over the long term I can see progress.

The song begins this way,

Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double

This is a truism. Worrying never solved anything. But when you are outside of Christ, worry is your idol. They worry because they have nothing else to hold on to. They do not know the future, they have no context in which to place the worrisome situation. So they worry, they can’t help it. I used to worry greatly. I was a recently divorced young teacher trying to hold on to my house on a skim salary, working three jobs, and wondering if this was all there was to life. I worried.

The song continues,

Ain’t got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don’t worry, be happy

If I was outside of Christ I SURE would be worried if I did not have a place to lay my head! It would be THE consuming issue of my day. I can’t NOT worry about it, just because Bobby McFerrin says not to. Making the mortgage each month was a victory. I desperately wanted to keep the place where I lay my head.

McFerrin goes on with another problem or two that is common to people, and offers the same advice, don’t worry and be happy.

It is a good idea to nurture and practice a positive mindset, that is true. Actress and comedian Betty White also practiced a positive mindset, all her long life. She didn’t worry. She was happy.

Then she died.

And went to hell (probably). She is no longer happy.

The mindset that Jesus gives us is an eternal one. Now that I’m on this side of the cross, I understand worry is a sin and joy is our permanent status quo. With that context, life’s daily problems seem small. He provides for us and always will. Knowing that removes the worry. He gave us forgiveness of sins, and offers us daily grace. This gives us joy. It is easier to be joyful when we have a perfect Father to go to in order to cast all our cares upon Him. When we have been freed from the power of sin and someday will dwell outside the existence of sin at all.

I still have the same slim salary and I’m still trying to hang on to the place where I lay my head, but my joy isn’t diminished by my circumstances, because that joy is outside of me, from Christ and being In Christ. I don’t worry (or when I do I take it to Christ) because I have the God of all Universe on His throne as my Father.

Before I was saved I tried to have a positive mindset, and I tried not to worry. It would work for a while. Then a problem would come. I’d solve it. Feeling satisfied with my problem-solving abilities, I’d be happy again with no worries. And another problem would scoot down the highway of life and crash into me. The cycle repeats. Underneath all that is the business of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, battling my conscience, and performing sins every day, while expending energy to convince myself that I was ‘a good person.’

For the unsaved, it’s a lot.

Life’s ups and downs are blessedly minimized when we gain the eternal perspective of seeing eternity through Jesus. Seeing time in the looooong term reduces those mountainous ups and downs to minimal bumps.

Being in Christ makes all the difference for life now and eternity then. But do we show it? Are we unworried and happy? Do we exhibit the joy of Christ, the peace that passes all understanding?

I pray that I exhibit the peace that passes understanding, the joy that adorns the countenance, the conviction to live a grace-filled life. I don’t always. But it is a goal. We have that ‘don’t worry, be happy’ ability – thanks to the Holy Spirit in us.

John wrote in his Gospel of Jesus that Jesus promised,

If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:7-11.

There is a difference between happiness and joy. Prior to salvation, my happiness faded as fast as smoke from a lit candle when adversity reared its head. Even when adversity remained at bay, my happiness came and went, inexplicably.

Joy though. Joy! That is an internal state, less dependent on circumstances. You can have daily ups and downs but the thread remaining is joy in Christ. He is our foundation, our anchor, or stay. Don’t worry yes, because worry is a sin. But be happy? OK. But better to be joyous.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).

What is the first of the fruit mentioned? Joy. Barnes Notes says

It is not without design, evidently, that the apostle uses the word “Spirit” here, as denoting that these things do not flow from our own nature. The vices above enumerated are the proper “works” or result of the operations of the human heart; the virtues which he enumerates are produced by a foreign influence – the agency of the Holy Spirit. Hence, Paul does not trace them to our own hearts, even when renewed. 

Therein lay the difference. Happiness is external. Joy is internal. It is also eternal. Don’t worry. Be happy- IN CHRIST.

EPrata photo
Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

Kay Cude poetry: When We Remember

Kay Cude poetry. Used with permission. Artist’s statement below.

As I continue to go through them my perspective is reinforced with the fundamental truth: it is necessary that we learn and grow through “issues” and situations we’d rather avoid. They will either drive us deeper into Scripture and prayer, or we will allow them to drive us into despondency, confusion and sorrow. When we experience breath-knocking blows, above all else it is necessary that we “remember” Who our first love is and that He, Christ is our ever-present secure help. He is our All-in-All, our sufficiency, protection, strength and giver of wisdom. We must remember that issues and circumstance have eternal purpose for His beloved redeemed.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/Polenov_MechtySAR.jpg
Posted in theology

Dark times call for Light encouragement

By Elizabeth Prata

I got to thinking, are times terrible? They are dark, and certainly getting darker by the day, that much is a definite fact. However, before I allow myself to sink into a funk, I think of two things. First, Jesus. And second, what my forebears went through. It is because of the work of Jesus we can be saved. It is because of the work of my forbears in the faith that the faith was handed down to me. I thank each and ever predecessor.

In this case today, I was thinking of Noah. Jesus said that at the time of the flood, Noah was the only righteous man left. Genesis 6:8 says that Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Noah was blameless in his ways, and righteous. He walked with the LORD. (Genesis 6:9).

This is in contrast to the description of everyone and everything else. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5). “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11). “And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”

That’s twice in a row, God saw the earth and when God saw it, it was filled with violence and corruption. God was so grieved at this, He was sorry He made man! (Genesis 6:6).

The only righteous person was Noah. Of his sons, the Bible doesn’t say they were righteous or unrighteous. Just that Noah had three sons (Genesis 6:10) and that they and their wives came into the ark with Noah. (Genesis 7:7). We do not know if the sons walked with God. We do not know if the sons were blameless in God’s eyes or if they were allowed into the ark because Noah’s righteousness covered them. I mean, Job used to continually sacrifice on behalf of his children’s sins to cover them. (Job 1:5). Perhaps Noah did also.

In any case, either it was a small band of humans who were righteous and did right in God’s eyes, or it was one person. Either way, that is a lonely, lonely life. Imagine how grieved Noah must have been with all that darkness around him!

When I think of how grieved I am today, the sins of the world piling up … the trials friends are going through … the awful knowledge of what is coming for the lost…sickness over my own sins… I think of Noah. For many years, 120 certainly, Noah preached God’s righteousness and built the world’s biggest boat (the world’s only boat?) and asked people to join him. He had not one taker. They mocked and they laughed and Noah saw his neighbors and friends go further away from the LORD into their one evilness. How sorrowful he must have been?

I was thinking this morning, just how evil do the days have to get to be actually like they were during Noah’s time?

We Christians have a lot on our minds. But no matter how heavy our hearts are in their burdens for other people, we need not fear.

Here are some essays encouraging us as to the reality of our position. The darkness is around us, but not in us.

Here are 13 reasons Christians don’t have to be afraid.

I end with reminding us to keep our noses to the grindstone and our heads focused on working for Him who is Light. No matter how dark things got for Noah, he nailed his nails and bent his planks one by plodding one. He never stopped working until the LORD said ‘get in the boat and I shall shut the door’. (Genesis 7:1316). We should never stop working until either we pass through death into heaven’s gates or the Lord calls us with the trumpet of God and the voice of the archangel and a shout, “Come up here!” Yes it is getting dark. But soon the Light cometh! Noah persevered, let us take comfort in his righteous act as our example. Noah is an heir of righteousness (Hebrews 11:7).

Here is Encouragement for Christian Laborers — J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), “Expository Thoughts on Matthew”

“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” – Matthew 11:11

“Do we know what it is to work for Christ? Have we ever felt cast down and dispirited, as if we were doing no good, and no one cared for us? Are we ever tempted to feel, when laid aside by sickness, or withdrawn by providence, ‘I have labored in vain, and spent my strength for nought?’ Let us meet such thoughts by the recollection of this passage. Let us remember, there is One who daily records all we do for Him, and sees more beauty in His servants’ work than His servants do themselves. The same tongue which bore testimony to John in prison, will bear testimony to all his people at the last day. He will say, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ And then shall His faithful witnesses discover, to their wonder and surprise, that there never was a word spoken on their Master’s behalf, which does not receive a reward.”

Those in Christ will dine with the eternal Savior at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! Your reward who is Jesus Christ will come for His bride, and darkness for us will be no more.